How Santa’s smart little helpers are changing christmas

We’re in the final days of 2018, and many of the stories on technology are giving hints and tips on how to have a device free holiday. One thing is for sure, gadgets remain one of the most popular gifts, with consumers looking to get their hands on latest tech. Yet consumers heavily rely on technology in their everyday lives, and Christmas tech detoxes have become popular, with families that want to spend less time looking at screens to prioritise quality time with their family.

Santa gets smart

Screen-free time is hugely important, but tech can also bring the family together if used in the right way. From getting your Alexa to play Michael Buble songs on repeat, or arranging a bespoke video or voice recording of Santa, tech can make the Christmas season even more festive.

The rise of Santa Tech

Generation after generation, small children have lovingly written their wish lists and posted them in the hope that they will wake up on Christmas day to everything they wanted. But Santa’s had a tech upgrade.

You can now email, and even Skype Santa, to ensure that your list gets to him in time. This is a market that is growing fast, and businesses are offering ways to keep the magic of Christmas alive by speaking to the man himself and checking that you aren’t on the naughty list. One of these businesses, Believe in the Magic of Santa, has become extremely popular and allows parents to schedule their call with Santa.

Christmas Carols on Repeat

Voice assistants are becoming more popular, but is anyone using them for more than setting a timer in the kitchen, adding things to a shopping list, or creating the right ambience with background music? Research we recently conducted shows that voice assistants struggled to help with many basic tasks on Christmas Day, including giving you cooking tips or making recommendations on where to purchase presents for loved ones. While the technology is still its infancy, it is progressing quickly, and brands are building skills that are allowing consumers to get useful responses to common queries. This also includes a number of games that get families to work together to complete a quiz (we created our own game too!) or tell jokes around the table.

When it comes to ethics, there is a grey area around Christmas. Each device was asked if Santa Claus was real, and the results present a dilemma. Should voice assistants protect the magic of Christmas and lie about Santa? Or, in an era of fake news, should they come clean and be honest? Alexa and Google Assistant both gave vague responses but still gave the impression that he was real, while Siri merely stated that it could not discuss the topic.

The impact of tech

While tech has the potential to create a barrier during the Christmas season, as we pry ourselves away from our screen, it’s important to realise that there are many benefits. Technology is a big part of our lives, and merely shying away from devices with a tech detox may not be the best option. By embracing what new technology can offer, families have the potential to make a high tech Christmas fun without having people staring at their screens.

Technology has become such an essential part of our everyday lives, so it’s not surprising that it is cementing itself in our Christmas traditions. While some are still wary of new technology, millennials are leading the way and are happy for it to be a part of their everyday lives if it adds value, or creates a useful experience. As technology is continuing to evolve, it will cement itself into our festive traditions, joining us around the Christmas tree and at our tables while we eat, drink and be merry.

Peter Zillig is the chief executive of Cheil UK

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